Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Edge of Tomorrow: Preview

Edge of Tomorrow: Preview

Well, now here is a pleasant surprise.

While I'd heard of Edge of Tomorrow, I'd consciously avoided all of the trailers for the film, not out of malice or spite, but just to be fresh and see something different.

It's an adaptation of a Japanese graphic novel (All You Need Is Kill) and is directed by Swingers' Doug Liman and stars Cruise as well as Emily Blunt - and as well as being a blast of sci-fi/ time travel, it's also incredibly funny.

The 25 minutes of footage that I saw was introduced by the man himself, Mr Tom Cruise, and concentrated on his praise for the film-makers, the crew and his co-star, Emily Blunt, whom he described as "bad-ass" in the new film. Then, a brief intro gives the setting of the film, which takes place in the final days of Earth's final stand against an alien invasion - and Cruise may hold the key to ending it all. Except for the fact he is not a fighter, more a PR man drafted into the army to handle that side of things.

As the footage begins, Cruise wakes up on a military base, thanks to Bill Paxton's Sgt Farell urging this "maggot" to get ready for combat. As Cruise's character, Major William Cage protests his innocence and that he needs to make a phone call. As Farell apparently heads Cage off into a tent to make said call, he reveals that Cage is a deserter and that he's to fight....Then, Cage is on a drop ship, taking off to enter the warzone, with his worrying that he can't take the safety off his gun being his primary concern.

But there's bigger fish to fry when the ship's blown apart by an explosion and Cage is sent spiralling down to the ground via a bungy cord, straight into the danger zone. With no fighting prowess evident, it's Cage trying to save his own life as the aliens attack, the crafts fall from the sky and chaos begins to reign. What's evident from this footage is how much is going on - it's reminiscent of Starship Troopers, with the combat suits the troops are wearing looking something like out of HALO. But what's also evident is a kind of macabre humour - almost Looney Tunes-esque in its execution. A fellow squaddie is squashed by an exploding craft, many of them dangle like Wile E Coyote going off a cliff while chasing Road Runner - there's gallows humour amongst the carnage.

Then, there's Emily Blunt. As Cage negotiates the attacks from the squids that burrow and attack from the ground, we're introduced to Blunt's bad-ass as she takes on the baddies. But it's a fight she loses and despite valiant efforts, Cage ends up back with his troops, only to be taken out by a squid that explodes onto his face, turns his pupils dilated black and ends up with his screams.

And then, he wakes up exactly where we began with Farrell screaming at him.

It's here the Groundhog Day concept kicks in - after lashings of Starship Troopers, as Cage tries to use his foreknowledge to save those around him. But as is evidenced by the sly humour on show during this film, his ranting merely ends up with tape across his mouth as he's pushed back onto the jump ship and forced to fight, reliving the horror and dying a different way around this time.

Before cycling back to the start - and just when you think the gag's about to wear off, Liman throws another narrative curve ball your way and hooks you in, with Emily Blunt's character telling Cage to "Come find me when you wake up." It's a sucker punch which really piqued my interest and pulled me in - a clever twist that hints at more within this, with Blunt's character revealing she had this same power but lost it....but she's willing to use Cage to help her end the war.

It's here that a series of combat training sequences are launched for Cage, as he's trained up to get battle ready and help on the fighting front. But it's also here that a sardonic wit and a matter of factness about Blunt's character is revealed - when Cage is severely injured in training, her simple reaction is to simply pull out her gun, and shoot him in the face, knowing full well it'll loop back to the beginning. There's a few of these gags as the casual Cruise killing continues, but it shows the harder dynamic with Cage trying to convince her not to, or downplaying injuries to ensure he doesn't have to go through it all again.

A final sequence at a farm house reveals a softer side to Blunt's character and hints at a lightening of the relationship as time goes on - but there's a reason why Cage is trying to charm her as he knows that outside of this farmyard is her end and she goes no further. It's the end of the road for her, and also for the footage with Cage intoning that he can't save her and save the world....indicating there may be a terrible choice ahead.

What's most impressive about Edge of Tomorrow is how cleverly it plays with its tried and tested time travel concepts, dizzying it all up with an injection of humour and wit that's perfectly timed and tonally spot on. The film looks like it'll be a lot of fun, without easing up on the FX front or the relationship side. It's clear that Liman's concocted something very cool, and Cruise and Blunt are perfectly pitched for this duo. It may have lashings of Looper, Groundhog Day and Starship Troopers, but it looks as if Edge of Tomorrow is about to provide something unique in a busy blockbuster season.

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